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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 9-17

Contributors to academic failure in postsecondary education: A review and a Canadian context


Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8 Canada, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 250 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Arun V Ravindran
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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Postsecondary enrollment has been rising globally over the past years, but poor performance and drop-out have also been increasing and have become an academic concern. Most drop-outs tend not to return, which significantly affects their future prospects. Postsecondary student populations are a diverse mix of local, immigrant, and international students but it is unclear if reasons for academic failure differ between groups. The aim of this review was to examine the published literature for contributors to postsecondary academic failure, including drop-out, among local, immigrant, and international students. A search of the literature was conducted using PubMed, ProQuest, EBSCOHOST, and PsycINFO on the topic for all articles published in English up to March 2016. The results showed that almost all data come from the Western countries. Several personal, sociocultural, and academic factors appear to be associated with postsecondary failure among all students. These include gender, low academic engagement, stress, psychological difficulties, low social support, and poor coping abilities. Immigrant and international students face additional challenges, such as loss of social networks, discrimination, acculturation, and language challenges. Limitations of the data include the relatively small body of literature (particularly from low- and middle-income countries), and lack of subgroup comparisons, such as of local, immigrant and international students. Clarification of the relative contribution of these factors to academic failure will facilitate the development of effective retention strategies, particularly those that focus on addressing psychological distress and building resilience.


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